Organized in response to legislative concerns over protection of native brook trout and Arctic charr, DIFW’s Heritage Brook Trout and Charr Work Group has dived into a wide range of issues, from the use of live fish as bait to the genetics of our native fish.
The group now meets monthly with the staff of DIFW’s fisheries division. At their April 26 meeting, the group discussed a Statement of Purpose along with a Vision statement which I will share with you today. They also talked about an action plan, a very good step forward in my mind.
The Action Plan is a work in progress, but the first draft includes incorporating the vision into DIFW’s operating procedures and policies, cultivating public awareness and stewardship, and adopting a process to review and nominate heritage waters.
Statement of Purpose
Whereas: Maine’s native and wild brook trout populations represent a unique and abundant resource not available elsewhere in the United States. Maine is the last true stronghold for wild brook trout and the only state with extensive intact populations of self-reproducing brook trout in lakes and ponds.
Whereas: Maine supports the only populations of native, wild Arctic charr remaining in the contiguous United States; and,
Whereas: The State of Maine, through legislative action, has designated Brook Trout and Arctic charr as Maine Heritage Fish;
Therefore: The Heritage Fish Work Group embraces the following vision to proactively protect and conserve Maine’s Heritage Fish Waters as a valuable and unique public resource for current and future generations.
1) Minimize threats from inter and intraspecific competition associated with new introductions of fish, including illegal introductions, MDIFW stocking, private stocking, and collection, storage and use of live fish bait;
2) Minimize other threats associated with environmental and land based activities;
3) Conserve the integrity of “heritage genetics” that may reflect attributes unique to watersheds and river drainages;
4) Support conservation of other native fish in heritage waters;
5) Sustain healthy, resilient populations;
6) Provide angling and research opportunities consistent with conservation and stewardship.
Neither Jeff Reardon of Trout Unlimited nor I are on the work group, so we appreciated that Francis Brautigam, Fisheries Division Director, allowed us to participate in the discussion at this meeting.
And please understand that all of this is a work in progress, and not finalized.